Friday, July 4, 2014

A Wonderful Evening

This Friday past Dwight and I joined many young and old like minds at Santa Rosa High School auditorium to glean wisdom from two icons dating back to the 1960's: Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder. The camaraderie of us old folks and the young seeking guidance from these two wise men was wonderful and heartfelt.
Our friend Sharon sent this
via email with "Subject:
weren't Wendell and Gary wonderful?'

The "moderator," who had orchestrated the meeting between these two men who make their homes on either side of our country and instigated the printing of the correspondence between them, kept the evening moving along combining laughter and applause. “Yes,” says Gary Snyder, sporting red socks, “we actually wrote letters and mailed them at our local post office.” 

Counterpoint Press and Copperfield's co-sponsored this "wonderful evening."

Later he went on to share his story of when he was a youngster attending Lutheran Sunday School. He asked his teacher whether his heifer would go to heaven. The Sunday School teacher said, “No.” And Gary’s esponse was “Then I don’t want to go to heaven.” Gary Snyder, as most of you probably know, is a practicing Buddhist.

Wendell Berry, on the other hand, is a Christian. He related his experiences of taking Christianity into the woods, the skillful reframing of the Bible and its teachings he made his own. He calls his practice “woods Christianity.”

The discussion of "wild" and "natural" was the pivotal moment in the evening for me. Gary is clear that "wild" has its own rhythm, its own cycle undaunted by humans and their destructive ways. “Ah ha,” I thought to myself, "that is what Sandy means when she says, 'everything is unfolding perfectly.' " And what a relief to me, the responsible One who takes on what does not need to be taken on from the wild. The baby deer and their moms are in perfect rhythm even though it does not look like that to me. Humans, this one included, have their own "point of view" which is more often than not a distortion of reality.

Perhaps Mary Oliver in her poem “Mysteries, Yes” offers a enlightened point of view we all could visit:

Mysteries, Yes
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

A lively exchange revolved around the article, “Green is Good” by D.T. Max, in the May 12, 2014 issue of The New Yorker. Now, after reading the article myself, I understand the discussion: the Nature Conservancy led by Mark Tercek is now partnering with Dow and other very large companies that are the major polluters of our planet “to save the environment.” This former partner of Goldman Sacks thinks that “environmental organizations have failed to harness the power of markets.” Apparently the old school environmentalists are at logger heads with the new school of “corporation influence.” Wendell Berry adamantly stated that "uncompromising NO" is the only sane stance against manufacturers of toxic chemicals that sully the planet, offering quick fix solutions for ageless human endeavors.

During the question and answer period of the evening a young man asked these two to share their wisdom with the young people his age about how to reconnect with the soil. Gary Snyder answered by saying that observation of the climate of place is the very basement activity, then noticing what grows at that place and when, and what is the first frost date in that place. He continued, saying that for past generations this was not just common knowledge, but deeply felt as well. BEing rooted in one place encourages the connection to and love for that place (a piece of land however large or small one chooses).

Wendell Berry shared his perspective: today people are unwilling to do the hard work of farming, once the main stay of our culture. This choice of easy rather than simple lays fertile ground for accepting toxic chemicals to do what in the past was laboriously done by those connected to the earth. 

I am so grateful that we have a person who is willing, and thoroughly enjoys, the hard work here at MuRefuge.

Three Winters ago I planted two different kinds of apricot trees
as an experiment. Would , particularly the Blenheim, produce fruit?
This season the answer was a resounding "YES!"
Oh the taste of these apricots is simply delish!

May each of you enjoy a good belly

1 comment:

  1. An email I received: "Good Morning, Cathie!
    Always so appreciate your updates and precious and insightful!!
    Ever so GRATEFUL for our dear friendship and so value being in MuRefuge with all its life forces and abundance! Amazing!!!
    Wow, what a surprise to see my pic on your blog. What an honor..... so appreciate your thoughtful message.
    Much happiness... I am now heading to MuRefuge. Can't wait to see you all!!
    Big hugs & love,